How to Choose the Right Interior Design School Elmore Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Elmore AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you obtain the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your final choice. But exactly where do you start? Many potential students will start their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important factors when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be considered also. We will address those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary distinction between them is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Elmore AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Elmore AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Training Programs
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to launch your new career in Elmore AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Classes
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Elmore AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the program you select is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Now that you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college has to be within driving distance from your Elmore AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior design college and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Elmore AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Elmore AL college you select should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a large network of Elmore AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Elmore AL schools you are looking at and ask what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Elmore AL schools you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Elmore home, go to the school and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer program you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Elmore AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Elmore Interior Design College
Choosing the right interior design school is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are many points to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still important that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Elmore AL.